The First Extensive Spectroscopic Study of Young Stars in the North America and Pelican Nebulae

Min Fang, Lynne A. Hillenbrand, Jinyoung Serena Kim, Krzysztof Findeisen, Gregory J. Herczeg, John M. Carpenter, Luisa M. Rebull, Hongchi Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


We present a spectroscopic survey of over 3400 potential members in the North America and Pelican Nebulae (NAP) using several low-resolution (R ≈ 1300-2000) spectrographs: Palomar/Norris, WIYN/Hydra, Keck/DEep Imaging Multi-Object Spectrograph (DEIMOS), and the Multiple Mirror Telescope (MMT)/Hectospec. We identify 580 young stars as likely members of the NAP region based on criteria involving infrared excess, Li I 6708 absorption, X-ray emission, parallax, and proper motions. The spectral types of individual spectra are derived by fitting them with templates that are either empirical spectra of pre-main-sequence stars or model atmospheres. The templates are artificially veiled, and a best-fit combination of spectral type and veiling parameter is derived for each star. We use the spectral types with archival photometry to derive V-band extinction and stellar luminosity. From the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, the median age of the young stars is about 1 Myr, with a luminosity dispersion of ∼0.3-0.4 dex. We investigate the photometric variability of the spectroscopic member sample using Zwicky Transient Facility data and conclude that photometric variability, while present, does not significantly contribute to the luminosity dispersion. While larger than the formal errors, the luminosity dispersion is smaller than if veiling were not taken into account in our spectral typing process. The measured ages of the stellar kinematic groups, combined with the inferred ages for embedded stellar populations revealed by Spitzer, suggest a sequential history of star formation in the NAP region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number146
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020


  • Pre-main sequence stars (1290)
  • Protoplanetary disks (1300)
  • Star formation (1569)
  • Star forming regions (1565)
  • Stellar accretion disks (1579)
  • Stellar associations (1582)
  • Stellar spectral types (2051)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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